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Thread: City on Strike
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Old 06-22-2009, 10:40 AM   #5 (permalink)

giant steps
'trane's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 15,190

as some of you know, i have my first baby due in about a week and a half. my house is also under renovation, albeit just one floor. we were on track to have everything ready for the arrival, and our final plumbing inspection was to be last friday. problem is, the inspector never showed up and didn't return my calls. now he's on strike, and i can't close up the walls or the gigantic hole in my basement floor until he comes back and gives the approval on the plumbing and lets to move forward with the project. so i will be bringing a newborn home to a situation where there is dirt everywhere, construction supplies in the rooms and hallways, no laundry and exposed pipes running through my bedroom. and to top it off, once the strike is over, contractors will again return to my house to finish the job, sand drywall and make an absolute mess while my wife is there breastfeeding our child.

needless to say, this strike comes at a pretty bad time for me.

the other big part of this is all of the summer camps and day programs run by the city that parents rely on. there are a great many people living around the poverty line that cannot afford child care and depend on these services. now many of them are being forced to take leave from work (when available) and/or quit and face the economic impacts of that during a recession because they have no places to send their children for the day. these are the real casualties of this strike.

this is about so much more than garbage.

now here's my take:

the association for independent businesses cried foul last week talking about public-sector benefits and vacation packages that the private sector can't even dream of. well, the other side of that story is that organizations like the city and like non-profits cannot possibly offer salaries like those in the private sector (except for a few senior politicians and very long-term beaurocrats at the city). instead of salary, they offer concessions on things like benefits, vacation, sick time, etc. it's all they can offer, really, as a means of compensating their employees.

sometime in the past, a negotiation was made about sick time accumulation and cashouts. this was a horrendous mistake by the city because it's an unfunded and entirely unpredictable liability that makes budgeting and future sustainability a near impossibility. i see why they want to get rid of it. but the union negotiated it. it is part of their cba, their income and their futures. i assume that many of them plan on using that money for their retirements, and i'd be right pissed off if i was in the union and my employer planned to take it away. i assume that the city must be proposing a system to grandfather that plan out, but still, the point of collectivity is to band together to help all of the membership, not just the senior members.

so i see why they are miles apart. both have good points. whether or not an entitlement like that is reasonable, it is part of the cba, and no union wants to walk away from bargaining and lose a significant income source. if mayor miller wants to right this ship, he needs to either find a counter-balancing proposal or legislate the workers back to the job and face a serious firestorm of a battle over this issue.

i want this over more than the average person, but i totally understand why both sides have dug in their heels. i just hope my baby doesn't mind a little dust and noise.
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